Prime Time Crime


(Prime Time Crime exclusive July 18, 2005)

Grace Chow & son, Nicholas - Civil Action

David Marley

Today was the memorial service for my friend, Chuck Cadman, a common, decent man who, by virtue of cruel fate, was propelled to action against the plague of unprovoked violence that besets our society. Despite his best efforts, and those of others, the situation is considerably worse now than it was at the time of his son's murder 13 years ago. Don't for a minute believe the pointy-headed criminologists and such. Remember, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

In this past week, the City of Vancouver alone has witnessed the vicious beating of a thirteen-year-old girl by a trio of other twelve or thirteen-year-old girls (who just six months earlier evidently beat a different young victim), plus the savage attack on a young boy by four grade seven students (who hit him numerous times with a garden hoe and shot him repeatedly with pellet guns).

According to Vancouver Police, there have been eight "swarmings" reported so far this year, most involving a targeted victim. In addition, there have been a multitude of so-called "home invasions", during which the home-owner(s), regardless of age, almost invariably is or are beaten. Then there are the increasing numbers of so-called "purse snatchings", in which the victim, almost always an elderly woman, is most often seriously injured (some have died). All such events involve violence that is unprovoked, indeed often premeditated.

The criminal justice system is proving to be less than adequate to the task of detering violence. Is it any wonder when you get sentences such as the one handed down in North Vancouver two weeks ago by the Chief Judge of the BC Provincial Court, who gave a police officer, of all people, a suspended sentence and 18 months' probation for having arrested a man without proper grounds, pushed him handcuffed into the back of a cruiser and then, when the man spit at the officer out of anger, punched him three times in the face with sufficient force to break the man's jaw in two places, requiring extensive surgery and an extended hospital stay (your tax dollars at work). In ten years with the RCMP, this constable had managed to accumulate four prior complaints from the public concerning his undue use of force. Two years after the incident in question, this policeman remains on active duty pending the completion of an internal RCMP disciplinary proceeding. Amazing!

The civil justice system remains the last lawful means of extracting recompense for the victims of unprovoked violence and, hopefully, serving as a measure of deterrence against future such acts. In civil court, the victim is not a mere witness. They are on an equal footing with their assailant(s) as litigants and the judge must deal squarely with the debt owed to the victim. The case is not about the rehabilitation of the attacker(s). In addition, the judge may award punitive damages against the defendant(s), regardless of any criminal sentence meted out to them earlier, so as to show society's disapproval of their conduct. In our law-suit, it is hoped that the punitive damages award will be considerable.

I am confident that the judgment to be rendered in the Chow-Johnson civil action will prove to have a major impact on violent crime in that it should generate extensive media commentary, hopefully prompting other civil law-suits, and be a valuable reference tool for the criminal defence bar in dealing with their young punk clients.

Once again, I thank you for helping to make this law-suit possible through your financial support. I'm sure Chuck is looking down on us and smiling at our work for the common good.

"A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves." 

- Edward R. Murrow

David Marley is a former lawyer and political advisor and can be contacted at


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